Difference Between Secure Web Gateway and Firewall



Today, we will be discussing all secure web gateway vs firewall. A secure web gateway and a firewall are often mistakenly interpreted as the same.

Since both a secure web gateway and firewall help improve security, these are commonly regarded as exact—however, perception changes as we dig down and learn about a secure web gateway and a firewall.

What Is a Secure Web Gateway?

Let’s start the conversation on secure web gateway vs firewall from scratch!

A secure web gateway is like a shield protecting networks against unwanted traffic within organizations. Hence, a secure web gateway is used for security purposes, and it is a security solution—a secure web gateway shields networks from unwanted and unnecessary traffic.

The secure web gateway works at the application level, which means a secure web gateway can improve network security at a higher level.

Moreover, a secure web gateway protects web surfing systems and helps implement organizational policies. A secure web gateway restricts its user while web surfing according to the guidelines set by the organization.

A secure web gateway prevents access to malicious websites and malware. Furthermore, it protects against web traffic that can lead to a cyber-attack.

A secure web gateway acts as a proxy between internal users within the organization and the internet. Secure web gateways are available in the market as software, hardware, and virtual appliance.

They can also be deployed on cloud-based systems to enhance security. Secure web gateways are compulsory to increase security within organizations because of increased cyber-attacks and the increased number of employees working remotely.

Crimeware is now offered as a service which means that anyone can have high-quality malware and use it for his benefit. Since remote employees work from unsecured devices on public networks, it isn’t easy to protect organizations from cyber-attacks.

Secure web gateways must be utilized to counter these security threats. A secure web gateway is very versatile. It can protect its users irrespective of the user’s location, operating system, or the application being used.

Components of A Secure Web Gateway 

When it comes to secure web gateway vs firewall, you must know what exactly are their components.

Web Proxy

To help improve security, all outbound traffic is passed through the secure web gateway. A secure web gateways proxies web requests via TCP port 80 and 443 between internal endpoints and the internet.

Policy Enforcement

The aforementioned secure web gateways are used to enforce policies like who, what, where, when, and how users interact with the web. Users can be restricted based on time, content, applications used, and much more.

Malware Detection

Many secure web gateways have the capability to inspect malicious code on the web in real-time. This ensures security and protection for safe web gateway users.

Traffic Analysis

Secure web gateways have the capability to inspect web traffic in real-time. Traffic is constantly monitored and analyzed. Policymakers can only allow specific traffic to pass and reach the users while disallowing other traffic like unencrypted traffic or any other content that doesn’t comply with the organizational policies.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Sensitive data is protected with secure web gateways. Data like social security numbers, bank accounts, and passwords are susceptible and can be used for ill purposes. Companies need to protect such sensitive data in any case.

Data loss is not compensable at this level. Secure web gateway analyses traffic and blocks the traffic which seems malicious and harmful.

URL Filter

Blocking unwanted websites is very easy with URL filters. URLs of malicious websites and applications can be gathered and linked with a secure web gateway to ensure that malware is always away from the system.

What Is a Firewall?

In secure web gateway vs firewall, we are moving on to the latter. A firewall is an essential part of network security. The firewall analyses and monitors traffic constantly to pass only the permitted traffic. The firewall monitors traffic based on specific security rules. These security rules are set on the following basis:

  • Source of packet data
  • Destination of packet data
  • Content of packet data

Traffic that abides by the security rules is allowed to pass, whereas traffic that doesn’t comply with the set security rules is prohibited. A firewall protects the inter-network systems from hackers and viruses.

These viruses and hackers try to enter the inter-network from external networks. A firewall acts as a shield and defends the internal network against unwanted interference. It is available in both the hardware and software form.

Types of Firewalls 

There are many types of firewalls. Firewalls can be classified by the data they filter or the system they protect.

  1. Network-based firewall
  2. Host-based firewall
  3. Cloud-based firewall (FaaS)
  4. Network firewalls are the hardware that protects the whole network, whereas host-based firewalls are software that protects devices. These devices are known as hosts. There are several types of host-based firewalls, namely:


A multi-layered approach is used by next-generation firewalls to integrate firewall capabilities in an IPS and application control.

Proxy Firewall

It is also known as an application-level gateway. It examines packets at the application layer of the Open Systems Interconnection or OSI model.

Packet-Filtering Firewall

It is unaware of the packet’s content and inspects packets in isolation.

Stateful Inspection Firewall

lt inspects the traffic to check whether one packet is related to another packet.

Final Verdict

Secure Web Gateway and A Firewall

So, what did we learn about secure web gateway vs firewall?

In simple words, the primary difference between a secure web gateway and a firewall is that the latter provides more excellent robust content filtering and greater overall application control. Moreover, a secure web gateway has a more robust reporting platform than firewalls.

Firewalls are best at providing security and protection. Still, a secure web gateway is far ahead in close and consistent reporting and monitoring of the user’s activity.

Firewalls are unparalleled when it comes to security. They provide far better protection as compared to a secure web gateway. Secure web gateway and firewall are essential security solutions for any organization’s security architecture.

Despite achieving a lot, both firewall and secure web gateway have a lot of room to grow and evolve. Firewall and secure web gateway are pretty similar yet very much different. The technology of both will continue to transform and elevate to new heights in the coming years.


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